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Progress Report on the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms

ABSG progress report 2020

  1. Contents
  2. Suicide prevention

Suicide prevention

Gambling with Lives has drawn significant attention to the links between gambling and suicide and suicide ideation. Its work has helped focus attention on the seriousness of this issue and the need for urgent action54.

The Commission published a package of research and analysis on this topic in May 2019. This work was undertaken with input from those with lived experience and included analysis of data from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey from 2007, the most recent and complete data available at the time55.

The report made a number of recommendations. However, there has been no progress towards achieving any of these. There has been no commissioning of the psychological autopsy study, no confirmation on inclusion of gambling related suicide measures in the forthcoming Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey for 2021, no inclusion of gambling disorder in coronial codes, and no progress on steps to ensure awareness raising and training on gambling related suicides amongst coroners is mandated. This failure to make progress on an issue that takes young lives is unacceptable and needs to be urgently addressed.

The National Suicide Prevention Strategies and Action Plans in England, Scotland and Wales67 give no prominence to the risk of suicide from gambling activities and nor do they explicitly utilise people with lived experience in campaigns to reduce gambling related suicides.

Annual Office of National Statistics data on suicide registrations are published each year, and the 2019 Cross Government Suicide Prevention Workplan sets out an ambition to reduce the overall number of suicides by 10% by 202157.

This is an area where rapid progress on establishing baseline metrics on gambling related suicide is needed and where government departments such as the Home Office, the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Social Care, local authorities and third sector organisations and their equivalents in Scotland and Wales could make a significant contribution to obtaining data. For example, directing a qualitative review of existing coroner records to identify gambling related suicides, inclusion of gambling disorder in coronial codes, and the re-introduction of gambling in the 2021 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Index.


54 Gambling with lives, website

55 Gambling and suicide research, GambleAware, 2019

56 National Suicide Prevention Strategy for England, Scotland Suicide Prevention Action Plan, Suicide Prevention Wales

57 Suicide prevention: cross government plan, Department for Health and Social Care, January 2019

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